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RETURN TO NORMALCY.
October 19, 2001

by Bill Hogan

 

 
 

Over the course of the last month, President Bush has continually pleaded with all Americans to "go about your business". To return to a "normal" way of life.

Look to the news media and it's hard to imagine life ever being "normal" again.

 
 

Fret not sportsfans. Flip to the sports page and you'll find its business as usual:

* The New York Yankees are back in the ALCS. They performed yet another amazing miracle to get there, and I doubt there is anybody willing to bet they won't four-peat.

They've done it before, you know. From 1949-1953 the Yankees took five straight fall classics (breaking their own record of four - 1936 to 1939).

And it's impossible to root against them when Joe Torre emerges from the dugout wearing a FDNY or NYPD ball cap.

* The Atlanta Braves are making their tenth straight post-season appearance. I didn't like the Braves when John Rocker was on the team, but now… na, I still don't like them.

* Speaking of John Rocker, it's somewhat comforting to know that he's still MLB's biggest jackass. He infuriated Seattle Mariner fans by tossing water on a group of hecklers during the ALDS - not normal, but typical.

* The Washington Redskins continue to embarrass themselves after a dismal Monday night loss to the woeful Dallas Cowboys. Everything is status quo for the team from our nation's capitol since Daniel Snyder - the worst NFL owner since Jerry Jones - surfaced.

Who needs the Redskins, anyway, now that Michael Jordan is playing across town? There's nothing more normal than watching Michael hit a running jumper in the lane.

* There's still the same old quarterback controversy in Buffalo. The ownership for the 0-4 Bills thought they put the kibosh on the QB quandary by selecting Rob Johnson as their starter and sending 'the other guy' to the West Coast. Little did they know that the fans in Orchard Park would rather see a box of Flutie Flakes lead there team.

* There's nothing abnormal about seeing Miami, Nebraska and Oklahoma at the top of the AP-UPI-ESPN-USA Today-Coaches-United Auto Workers-Association of Registered Nurses-People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals College Football Poll.

And it's absolutely ordinary to have no clue how to figure out the BCS standings. There isn't a so-called 'expert' out there that can explain the formula they use to determine the two teams that will compete for the National Championship at the Rose Bowl next January.

* Hey, (2-3) Notre Dame still has the same uniforms. And the same coach. I can understand why they have the same uniforms. But why do they have the same coach?

* And 74-year-old Joe Paterno is STILL coaching at Penn State! People wonder why Joe Pa, with his team at 0-4, doesn't retire. The answer is simple. And it has nothing to do with breaking the record for most D1 wins. If he needs those coke bottle glasses to see the field from the sidelines - he'd have to use the Hubble Telescope to view the action from the stands!

* The New York Islanders are back on top in the NHL. I know that doesn't seem "normal" given their recent history - but if you go back twenty years - there was none better. They pulled off a four-peat of their own hoisting the Stanley Cup in 1980, '81, '82 and '83.

* Rest easy, sportsfans, Tiger's back on tour. He shot a 3-under 69 in the first round of the National Car Rental Classic at Disney World. He's four off the lead - which pretty much makes him the front runner in his quest for a thirtieth PGA title.

Three under is darn good under the circumstances. Tiger personifies the American way and, as one of the most recognizable public figures in the world today, makes an easy target. It's times like these when there is a considerable advantage to being the world's greatest bowler.

*********

In the wake of the 11 September tragedies, there has been a significant deviation 'from the norm' that is evident at the ballparks, stadiums and arenas around the country:

There is Red, White and Blue - everywhere.

Fans - and players- actually stand and sing the National Anthem like it means something.

Everyone knows the words to "God Bless America".

And when a recording of Ray Charles' "America, the Beautiful" resonates from the public address system - there isn't a dry eye in the house.

I hope, years from now, when things really 'get back to normal', we don't lose this incredible sense of patriotism - the importance that we now put on God and Country - before we watch a football game. Or wash the car, for that matter.

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